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January 8, 2004
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University will work with
government on fiscal problems


Dr. Axel Meisen

Dr. Axel Meisen

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams outlined the province’s difficult fiscal challenges in a province-wide television address on Jan. 5. Premier Williams said an independent review of the province’s finances indicates unsustainable budget deficits in the coming years. Without changes, the province will add up to four-billion dollars to the province’s debt, pushing it to nearly $16-billion. Left unresolved, he said this budget crisis “will threaten the future sustainability of the province and seriously compromise our social programs and way of life.”

Memorial’s President Axel Meisen said that, as the government develops its course of action to address the deficit and debt, the university – a publicly funded body – will be in contact with government officials to see what role the university can play in finding solutions to the fiscal crunch.

Tapping bright minds
Dr. Meisen said the university is looking forward to working with the government in many ways on solutions to the fiscal situation. “Some of the brightest minds in the province are here at Memorial,” Dr. Meisen said. “Bringing this intellectual power to bear on the financial problem could yield some new, creative solutions.”

In his address, the premier outlined a two-pronged approach to fixing the budget problem that includes finding savings in government expenditures and growing the economy to increase revenue.

“First, we must regain control of our expenditures over a reasonable time frame,” the premier said. “Second, even as we attempt to grapple with the deficit, government will also have an unwavering commitment to growing our economy, creating new jobs and expanding our revenue base.” Premier Williams said that while the fiscal challenge is tremendous, “the greater challenge — and frankly, the one that motivates me — is turning the economy around so we generate new industries, small business growth, new investment and new jobs.”

Spurs economic development
Dr. Meisen said that the university continues to play a supportive role to communities and businesses, through the transfer of university-developed ideas, and through the education of highly qualified personnel for the knowledge-based economy. In addition, the university is a key factor in attracting innovative, leading-edge companies to the province. Dr. Meisen said that the university is committed to developing young entrepreneurs to expand the province's economy. In particular, the university is developing into a centre of expertise in the oil and gas sector, a long term initiative aimed at creating a sustainable industry — based on expertise and knowledge — one that will last beyond the oil reserves. The university stimulates major economic activity in the province through attracting increasing numbers of students from out of the province and external research funding. The latter exceeded $50 million last year, with most of these monies being spent on goods and services in the province.

“The province is clearly committed to tackling its financial issues, and I believe that Memorial can help create a bright future for the province,” Dr. Meisen said.

For more information on the province's financial situation, visit the government's Web site at www.gov.nf.ca/financialsituation/.

 


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Lyle Wetsch
Dr. Axel Meisen
Anne Marie Hynes (R) with a student
Andrew Draskoy
Dr. Tanis Adey
Next issue: January 22, 2003

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